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“The World’s Greatest Racing Car” – The DOHC Peugeot Part I

Just the other day this photo, which appears to be a colorized photo or lantern slide, was found by early racing enthusiast Douglas Odgen. It appears to possibly depict Arthur Duray in the 1914 Peugeot, which finished in 2nd place at Indianapolis that year, behind Rene Thomas in his Delage.  Jules Goux who won the 1913 500 in his Peugeot, finished 4th in the 1914 edition.

The discovery of this photo prompted us to search out other Peugeot photos and construction details, which will show you this brilliant dohc, four-valve four-cylinder engine designed by Boillot-Goux-Zuccarelli or “Les Charlatans” as they were called. Boillot and Goux were both racing drivers and Paolo Zuccarelli was a very talented practical engineer-mechanic. This engine that they created in 1912, established the dohc four-valve layout that is still in use to this day.


Just above is a four page article in the Automobile Magazine, that shows us the full and very interesting construction details of the 1912 Peugeot, that went on the win the French Grand Prix and many other races that year. The following year Jules Goux, won the 1913 Indianapolis 500 with an updated 448 c.i. version of the 1912 car. He finished the race at an average speed of  75.933 mph, ahead of Spencer Wishart in a 300 c.i. Mercer in second at 73.489 and Charlie Merz in 389 c.i. Stutz in third.

Just (below) is a very clear and interesting silent film made at the time and using some of the best 1912 French GP racing footage we have seen yet. It shows the event from many different locations around the track, includes many of the cars and at the end, has a funny scene of a doctor treating and unconscious driver who wakes up.

Just (below) is a very interesting and fully illustrated article from The Automobile, Feb, 12, 1914, issue titled “The Acme of Racing Efficiency” that tells of the new 183 c.i. model, which produced about the same speed and power as the earlier 1913 450 c.i. and 1914-15 300 c.i. versions of the car built for Indianapolis. It shows you the updated feature of a camshaft gear drive up the front of the engine, that replaced the earlier shaft driven version. Another update to the engine, included a three main bearing crankshaft that ran on ball bearings. Chick here for Part II of  “The World’s Greatest Racing Car” – The DOHC Peugeot.


13 responses to ““The World’s Greatest Racing Car” – The DOHC Peugeot Part I

  1. The color photograph of of the 1914 Peugeot, may be an Autochrome, which was a complex process using dyed potato starch.

  2. David,

    Everything you do is perfect. Just one opinion. After a week with no power, heat or internet, it comes back with your article on my favorite subject ! The 1912 article may be the source of the many inaccuracies about the Peugeot motor. The speculation about the cams operating on “the interior of an eccentric” was repeated in many publications and only corrected in the 1980’s. The real mystery is how the author of this article anticipated the design of the 1914 Delage desmo in 1912 ?


      • David,

        This Sept. 26, 1912 Automobile article appears to repeat the mistake Charles Faroux made in the August 31, 1912 article in La Vie Automobile. There were never any Stirrup tappets (interior of an eccentric) in any of the Ernest Henry designed Peugeot motors. A guess that was turned into fact and illustrated in many books and articles on GP cars. I think it is pretty clear that Henry was the driving force behind this seminal engine when you consider the innovations in his later 1919 Ballot engine. Today, in the internet information age, you have to wait 5 years to see the inside of F1 engine, in 1912 it took about two months……


        • Paul, Thanks and keep adding anything that you know is incorrect so we can set the record straight. Just last night I found the original photos that were used for the the Sept. 26 1912 article in The Automobile. I will post them and other Peugeot racing car photos soon.

          • David,
            This article on the 1912 DOHC engine indicates the valves (IN & EX) were the same size. Ludvigsen’s book states the 1913 3 litre had 4 equal sized valves and the only accurate drawing (based on dismantling the Cunningham car) has equal sized valves. But other sources claim bigger intakes. Do you have anything else on this or where the practice of larger intakes started ?

  3. While many people credit Henry with the inspiration for the 1912 GP engine others feel he was only the draftsman. I don’t have a firm opinion about it but am not sure Henry’s later work convinces that he fathered the Peugeot design… he may have gotten his ideas from that project rather than bringing them to it. Perhaps his earlier work would provide more clues to his sophistication in 1912 than his later work does. I don’t recall reading — mostly in Automobile Quarterly — much if anything about that. I’ve only begun the material here, maybe it provides more illumination.

  4. I´ve unsucessfully tried to find the Faroux original August 31, 1912 article for the La Vie Automobile from which Bradley derived his own Sept. 26, 1912 article for Automobile. I´d like to check on the accuracy of the latter and could anyone here suggest a link to the former? Thank you.

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